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Thursday, June 29, 2017

When is a leak ethical?

Cassandra Burke Robertson
The Conversation
Originally published June 12, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

Undoubtedly, leaking classified information violates the law. For some individuals, such as lawyers, leaking unclassified but still confidential information may also violate the rules of professional conduct.

But when is it ethical to leak?

Public interest disclosures

I am a scholar of legal ethics who has studied ethical decision-making in the political sphere.

Research has found that people are willing to blow the whistle when they believe that their organization has engaged in “corrupt and illegal conduct.” They may also speak up to prevent larger threats to cherished values, such as democracy and the rule of law. Law professor Kathleen Clark uses the phrase “public interest disclosures” to refer to such leaks.

Scholars who study leaking suggest that it can indeed be ethical to leak when the public benefit of the information is strong enough to outweigh the obligation to keep it secret.

The article is here.